It’s crazy how time flies! I can’t believe it has been over a year since my amazing trip to Tuscany with my mom and sister last fall…
The idea to take a trip to Italy came from my sister and I wanting to do something with my mom to celebrate her retirement from teaching. Our minds whirling with the possibilities, the three of us eventually narrowed in on traveling around Tuscany, staying at agrotourismos and eating fresh, locally-grown food. We also thought it would be great to take a cooking course in Italian cuisine while we were there.
After a few months of researching agrotourismos, small Tuscan villages, and Italian cooking courses, we found some choice places to stay and a week-long cooking course through Organic Tuscany.
Our cooking classes through Organic Tuscany were absolutely fantastic. We made fresh pasta and gnocchi and all kinds of other delectable dishes. The small classes were interspersed with trips to local farms and tours in local cities, which allowed us to really get a flavor for not just the food, but also the local culture.
One of my absolute favorite dishes that we were taught was Gnocchi di Zucca, or Baked Pumpkin Dumplings. I’ve probably made this dish the most times since we’ve been back and had the opportunity to make it again for a potluck Graham and I hosted a couple weeks ago. The dish gets rave reviews every time that I make it, and the potluck was no exception. It’s a great reminder of our trip, and a great opportunity to practice some of the cooking skills I picked up in Tuscany. If you’re interested, check out the recipe below and the Organic Tuscany website.
Gnocchi di Zucca (Baked Pumpkin Dumplings)
Adapted from The Organic Tuscany Cookbook
The original recipe provides directions for making a tomato sauce for the dumplings, but I was short on time and ingredients, so I used a store bought jar of tomato sauce. Also, instead of a pumpkin, I ended up making this dish with a butternut squash that came in my CSA box. Lastly, during our classes we learned not to be shy with the olive oil, so I like to use a good amount when making this dish.
1 medium-sized pumpkin or butternut squash
2 medium onions
3 cloves of garlic
½ cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated
Begin by pealing the squash and scooping out the seeds. Cut the squash into small cubes (about 1 inch). Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil (or more) in a large pan and add the squash and salt and pepper to taste.
While the squash cooks, dice the onions and mince the garlic. When the squash has softened and has started to break down a bit, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Stir occasionally and continue cooking until squash is very tender and the onions have softened and begun to brown.
Remove the squash and onions from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. Return squash to low heat and begin to slowly add flour to the mixture, making sure to stir in each batch of flour completely before adding more. The mixture should thicken, but still remain creamy. Remove from heat.
Pour the tomato sauce into shallow baking pan. The sauce should completely cover the bottom of the pan. Swirl a little bit of cream into the tomato sauce.
To make the dumplings, use two spoons to shape small amounts of the squash mixture into balls about the size of a walnut or apricot. Place the dumplings into the tomato sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake the dumplings at 350° for 15 minutes. The cheese and tops of the dumplings should begin to brown.
Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:
|Recipe Report Card||Notes About Recipe Ratings|
Five Chefs (Gourmet Fare!)
|As I mentioned above, this dish gets rave reviews every time I make it. People say it just melts in their mouths!|
Three Easy Chairs (Average Difficulty)
|The recipe is fairly straightforward, but requires an immersion blender or food processor to create perfectly smooth and creamy dumplings. Before I had an immersion blender, I tried to puree the squash and onion mixture in a regular blender and that was just a mess.|
Three Apples (Average Nutritional Quality)
|Without the addition of cream to the tomato sauce, this would be a fairly healthy dish.|
Four Leaves (Mother Earth Approved)
|All of the ingredients were organic and the squash and onions were local.|